The cybersafety policy published yesterday by the Coalition included plans to implement a mandatory opt-out internet filter.
(Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
The Coalition's Policy to Enhance Online Safety for Children, its AU$10 million cybersafety policy published yesterday, quietly included plans to implement opt-out "adult content" filters on all mobile phone services and fixed internet services, CNET Australia's sister site ZDNet discovered.
The policy — since withdrawn — stated:
We will introduce nationally agreed default safety standards for smartphones and other devices, and internet access services. As has recently been achieved in the United Kingdom, we expect these standards will:
Involve mobile phone operators installing adult content filters on phones which will be switched on as the default unless the customer proves he or she is at least 18 years of age; and
Involve major internet service providers providing home network filters for all new home broadband services, which will be switched on as the default unless the customer specifies otherwise.
Liberal MP and author of the policy Paul Fletcher told ZDNet, "What we intend to do is work with the industry to arrive at an arrangement where the default is that there is a filter in the home device, the home network, that is very similar to the filters that are available today. This is very much about protecting children from inappropriate content, particularly pornography."
Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull then defended the internet filter (skip to about 26 minutes in) on Triple J's Hack program, saying, "The filter will be contained in software installed in either people's smartphones or modems ... which can be disabled at their option ... it's basically the same as installing a filter on your own computer ... it's essentially installing that software in the smartphone or modem as a default, which you can switch off, but that's your call."
Not even five hours after the ZDNet story broke, Turnbull claimed that the Coalition had never had plans to implement an internet filter. "The Coalition has never supported mandatory internet filtering. Indeed, we have a long record of opposing it," he said.
Yesterday, Fletcher told ZDNet, "The key thing is it is an opt-out, so it will be open to the customer to call up and say, 'look, I don't want this', and indeed, we will work with the industry to make this a streamlined and efficient process." Audio of that conversation can be heard on ZDNet.